Millions of people will come together this autumn to celebrate one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture - Diwali.
The auspicious Hindu festival, which is also known as the festival of lights, falls on 7 November and coincides with the Hindu New Year. It celebrates new beginnings as well as the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
To celebrate this colourful holiday, families often make special decorations, light candles, play games, eat incredible sweets and give gifts. For Bristol-based Indian restaurateur Romy Gill, who grew up in a small town in West Bengal, Burnpur, the celebratory festival is all about a "sense of togetherness and sharing food."
What does Diwali mean to you?
Romy says, "Diwali is the festival that will always play a big part in my life. No matter how rich or poor you are, people come together to celebrate. My mum and her friends used to make delicious sweets, they would spring clean the house and decorate with lights and candles. She also made sure we had new clothes to wear on the occasion and at the end of the night, to celebrate Diwali, everyone used to get together for fireworks."
What to eat over the festival
According to Romy, the type of food which is eaten during Diwali depends on the different traditions and cultures you were brought up in.
Romy tells us, "India is a big country so ways of making similar dishes can differ. I not only make lots of sweet dishes, but a lot of Indian street food snacks too. I make Saffron Jalebis (a fried Indian treat coated in sweet syrup), Shankarpale (small diamond-shaped pastries) and Kajoo barfi (popular Indian sweets made with ground cashew nuts and condensed milk)."
It seems no celebration in Hindu culture would be complete without lots of homemade sweet treats. Romy tells us, "Desserts are the main highlight of the festival. I'm not sure why, but I think sweets are a fitting way to celebrate good over evil. I tend to make them in bulk as all Indian sweets take a long time to make."
"For savoury food we mostly cook vegetarian dishes. I will be making Samosas, Chaat (crispy pieces of fried dough tossed with chopped onion, coriander, yogurt and other tasty toppings) and Dahi Bhalla (savoury dumplings served with yoghurt)."
For more Diwali-inspired dishes, check out these four mouthwatering recipes below.
Cardamom & pistachio nan khatai
When it comes to Diwali foods, sweets reign supreme. Try these Indian shortbreads, full of crunchy nuts with an aromatic flavour.
Red onion bhajis
If you’re having people over, then try making some of these classic Indian fritters, which make delicious finger food. Thinly sliced onions are fried in a spiced batter usually made using chickpea flour - or sometimes regular wheat flour. Find our red onions bhajis recipe here.
This pumpkin samosa recipe makes a dozen large, vegetarian samosas - and is a great way to combine seasonal produce with an Indian favourite.
Creamy quinoa ‘rice’ pudding
Traditional Indian rice pudding or ‘kheer’ is often made with coconut milk and pistachios, which we’ve added here. But our ‘rice’ pudding has a different texture thanks to the inclusion of gluten-free quinoa. Try our creamy quinoa 'rice' pudding recipe here.